NORTH BALTIMORE — Whistle Stop Inn restaurant, which reportedly drew out-of-towners to North Baltimore with its prime rib, steaks and burgers, closed Tuesday. Residents fear it will not reopen and leave the town starved for the traffic and money it has lured for years.
Attempts to reach the owners on Friday were unsuccessful. It reportedly employed more than 20 people.
“It’s sad and it’s going to hurt our community,” said Laurie Newcomer, co-owner and manager of Sisters Junction, just down the block from the restaurant. “It is dead here. I just sent one of my employees home. … The town is dead. … I can tell already the difference in the business uptown.”
Main Street parking spaces, normally filled, were empty Friday afternoon.
At lunchtime, an out-of-town couple on their way to Perrysburg came to Newcomer’s antiques and collectibles store to ask what the deal was with Whistle Stop.
“They could not believe the restaurant was closed,” she said. “People are noticing it.”
“I would say about 30 to 50 people a day are going to that door and turning around,” said Jason Gerdeman, who tended bar there and has a shop nearby.
Whistle Stop was a perfect meeting point for those traveling between Findlay and Bowling Green and between Toledo and Lima, Gerdeman said.
“It was a nice out-of-the-way place where you could get really good food at a reasonable price.”
“Our town really strives off of their business because everybody was from out of town that really ate in there,” Gerdeman said. “I would say, 75 percent (of the customers) were out-of-towners. And it helped all of these businesses here.”
In the wake of the Whistle Stop closing, Gerdeman said he will be closing his shop near the restaurant to join forces with another this week.
“All of our shops, we’ve noticed this whole week that it’s been a ghost town,” he said. “It’s a huge letdown.”